The article you just read was brought to you by a few thousand dedicated readers. Will you join them?

Thanks for coming by The Tyee and reading one of many original articles we’ll post today. Our team works hard to publish in-depth stories on topics that matter on a daily basis. Our motto is: No junk. Just good journalism.

Just as we care about the quality of our reporting, we care about making our stories accessible to all who want to read them and provide a pleasant reading experience. No intrusive ads to distract you. No paywall locking you out of an article you want to read. No clickbait to trick you into reading a sensational article.

There’s a reason why our site is unique and why we don’t have to rely on those tactics — our Tyee Builders program. Tyee Builders are readers who chip in a bit of money each month (or one-time) to our editorial budget. This amazing program allows us to pay our writers fairly, keep our focus on quality over quantity of articles, and provide a pleasant reading experience for those who visit our site.

In the past year, we’ve been able to double our staff team and boost our reporting. We invest all of the revenue we receive into producing more and better journalism. We want to keep growing, but we need your support to do it.

Fewer than 1 in 100 of our average monthly readers are signed up to Tyee Builders. If we reach 1% of our readers signing up to be Tyee Builders, we could continue to grow and do even more.

If you appreciate what The Tyee publishes and want to help us do more, please sign up to be a Tyee Builder today. You pick the amount, and you can cancel any time.

Support our growing independent newsroom and join Tyee Builders today.
Before you click away, we have something to ask you…

Do you value independent journalism that focuses on the issues that matter? Do you think Canada needs more in-depth, fact-based reporting? So do we. If you’d like to be part of the solution, we’d love it if you joined us in working on it.

The Tyee is an independent, paywall-free, reader-funded publication. While many other newsrooms are getting smaller or shutting down altogether, we’re bucking the trend and growing, while still keeping our articles free and open for everyone to read.

The reason why we’re able to grow and do more, and focus on quality reporting, is because our readers support us in doing that. Over 5,000 Tyee readers chip in to fund our newsroom on a monthly basis, and that supports our rockstar team of dedicated journalists.

Join a community of people who are helping to build a better journalism ecosystem. You pick the amount you’d like to contribute on a monthly basis, and you can cancel any time.

Help us make Canadian media better by joining Tyee Builders today.
We value: Our readers.
Our independence. Our region.
The power of real journalism.
We're reader supported.
Get our newsletter free.
Help pay for our reporting.

Plan to Let Customers Spread Out Winter Hydro Bills Could Go Further, Says Advocate

Even with flexibility, ‘people with very low incomes may never be able to catch up.’

By Andrew MacLeod 11 Jan 2017 |

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee's Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria and the author of A Better Place on Earth: The Search for Fairness in Super Unequal British Columbia (Harbour Publishing, 2015). Find him on Twitter or reach him here.

image atom
BC Hydro this week announced it is aiming to help people who may receive higher than normal bills due to high electricity consumption during what’s been a colder than normal winter.

A lawyer with an advocacy group working to make BC Hydro fees more affordable for people with low incomes welcomed an announcement that the utility will allow customers to spread paying their winter bills over a six-month period.

“It’s a great step,” said Erin Pritchard, a staff lawyer with the B.C. Public Interest Advocacy Centre. “More flexible payment options are something we support, but as part of a comprehensive suite of measures that would recognize ongoing bill affordability issues for low-income customers.”

BC Hydro this week announced it is aiming to help people who may receive higher than normal bills due to high electricity consumption during what’s been a colder than normal winter. The policy will allow residential customers to even out payment of their winter bills by spreading them over the six months from Dec. 1 to March 31.

The announcement quoted president and CEO Jessica McDonald saying, “We recognize that some customers may need the option to manage the costs over a longer period of time. This program allows them to do that.”

BC PIAC has been representing seven seniors’ and anti-poverty groups to provide input to the B.C. Utilities Commission on BC Hydro’s ongoing 2015 rate design application. The groups want the commission to order various measures to help low-income BC Hydro customers, including a lower rate for the first 400 kilowatt hours of electricity they use each month and a crisis intervention fund for low-income rate payers facing disconnection.

Pritchard said those kinds of measures, which BC Hydro and the provincial government have opposed, are still needed and she is expecting a BCUC ruling within a couple months. Even if they spread out their winter payments, “People with very low incomes may never be able to catch up,” she said.

Many people struggle to pay their bills, she said, noting that BC Hydro rates have been escalating much faster than the minimum wage has increased and welfare support rates have been stagnant for a decade.

According to a document BC PIAC filed with the BCUC, BC Hydro rates have risen 51 per cent since 2005 and are projected to increase by another 30 per cent by 2023.

The NDP opposition’s critic for BC Hydro, Adrian Dix, said he agrees with giving people more time to pay their winter hydro bills.

“This is an admission by the Liberals of the impact of their disastrous energy policy,” said Dix. “Really what we’re talking about is the impact of Hydro rate increases.”

Citing a Tyee story about how disconnections from BC Hydro spiked after 2013, Dix said, “People are struggling because of rate increases.”  [Tyee]

Share this article

The Tyee is supported by readers like you

Join us and grow independent media in Canada

Facts matter. Get The Tyee's in-depth journalism delivered to your inbox for free


The Barometer

Tyee Poll: Are You Preparing for the Next Climate Disaster?

Take this week's poll